London on a budget
Ever dreamt of dropping everything and going travelling? Ever thought about putting your life back home on pause and seeing what the world has to offer? If this is your idea of paradise, look no further and make sure London is at the top of your destination list.
When people think of visiting London, they automatically assume that it will be too expensive for their budget. Whilst there is no denying that London is an expensive place to live, study and visit, it is definitely possible to enjoy your stay in London in an affordable, cost effective way. All you need to know are the best places to go and the areas to move in and London can become a pleasantly affordable experience. Follow these simple steps and you'll be in London sooner than you think!
Places to stay
Hostels, hostels, hostels! Providing cheap and cheerful accommodation, these Godsends are any travellers' haven. Contrary to the 2005 hit film, hostels are the perfect way to safely rest your weary head in London without breaking the bank. The majority of London's hostels are centrally located, easily accessible to the underground transport system and quite simply the perfect way to meet people! And at the end of the day, isn't that what travelling is all about.
For the gay traveller, hostels are generally used by a younger crowd (most hostels actually impose an age limit on their guests), offering the perfect gay friendly atmosphere for you to enjoy your stay. If you're looking for exclusively gay hostels, London boasts a wide range that spans the city's boroughs and helps you meet other gay travellers. London House Gay Hostel is located in North London and is effectively a hotel set in modern, clean surroundings. Piccadilly Backpackers is an award winning hostel located slap bang in central London, right by Oxford Street and other tourist attractions such as Trafalgar Square. With bed reservations as low as £12, this hostel simply cannot be beaten when you think of all the facilities they provide: free linen and blankets, comfortable accommodation, showers, internet and weekly party events.
Places to eat
So, you've been on your feet sightseeing all day and suddenly hunger strikes! Don't think that you need to splash out every night on food; London is packed with cheap restaurants, cafes and bars where you can grab something quick to eat or make an evening of it and eat something more substantial. Our advice: steer clear of tourist traps that will up their prices as high as humanly possible. Your best bet is to set a course for London's favourite local places where you'll get good food, a great atmosphere and local Londoners all thrown in at a good price.
Electric Brasserie in Notting Hill attracts London's trendier crowd and with good reason. With the majority of the menu under a tenner, you can't go wrong with this British-modern dining experience. For an encounter with the more traditional London – a must for any visitor – make a bee-line for one of London's many, many historic pubs. Always at the centre of any British soap opera, the local pub is the heart of any community and London is no exception. The beautifully decorated Argyll Arms next to Oxford Circus tube station dates from the nineteenth century and has a wide selection of real ales. This is the perfect place to stop off for some quality traditional food, drink and ambience.
As one of the most expensive transport systems in the world, getting around London can be a little expensive. Although the price to use London's public transport is on the high side, it is extensive, reliable and very easy to use!
When travelling around London on a budget, depending on the length of time you are in the city, the cheapest way by far is to invest in a 3 day travelcard or an Oyster card that will substantially reduce transport costs. Oyster cards can be purchased from most tube station ticket offices and money can be added to them allowing you to use London's transport system on a pay as you go basis.
The table below outlines the savings that you can make by using an oyster card:Fancy a night out in one of London's many bars, pubs and nightclubs? Getting back to your hostel is easy with London's extensive night bus service that serves central London and spreads out to the outer suburbs of Greater London. The number on the front of London's night buses begin with an ‘N' and start from either Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road or Trafalgar Square.
If you would like to plan your journey in advance, check out London Gay Man's maps section for service updates on London's underground system and a journey planner.
In comparison with other major tourist destinations, London is an expensive spot to visit if you're thinking about going travelling, however keep in mind that you're not the first person to have even done London on a shoestring. As long as you stick to cheaper, student-frequented, gay friendly areas such as Soho, Shoreditch and Camden, you'll not only meet nicer people but your wallet will thank you in the long run!